The True Pattern

By Francis Frangipane
(En EspaƱol)

It is one thing to be able to discern what is false, but it is of much greater value to know the pattern of the true. Thus the apostle Paul uses chapter 3 of Philippians to reveal his attitude of heart. In so doing, he gives us the pattern of what we should look for in a leader.

After presenting his remarkable pedigree in versus 5 and 6 -- an Israelite by birth; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness defined in the Law, found blameless -- Paul then renounces the very things he attained, saying: "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ" (v. 7). For the mature man or woman, no position or esteem among men can replace the "surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus [our] Lord." Even the most amazing of achievements are reduced to "rubbish in order that [we] may gain Christ" (v. 8).

Paul separates himself further from the Mosaic Law, revealing that his quest is to "be found in [Christ], not having a righteousness of [his] own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ" (v. 9). Having been saved from the consequences of the Law, and having received a new source of "righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith," Paul is liberated to pursue his true destiny: Christlikeness!

We began this study last week with Paul's admonition to "observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us" (v. 17). In verses 10-11 the Lord reveals the divine template for the new creation man: Christlikeness. With this vision in his mind, Paul continues demonstrating the true pattern as a quest for intimacy and conforming to Christ. He wrote:

"That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

There is a difference between knowing a collection of religious truths and actually knowing Christ. Truth is in Jesus; He Himself in the way, the truth and the life. To know Him is eternal life, and to live in fellowship with Him is to partake of the nectar of Heaven.

Yet knowing Christ also means knowing the fellowship of His sufferings as we lay down our lives for the redemption of others. For those suffering for Jesus, remember: participation in His sufferings is part of knowing Him.

Paul did not embrace death as an entity by itself; he embraced Christ's death, which is not only the death of self but also the triumph of love. It is this surrender to "death for Jesus' sake" that allows "the life of Jesus [to] be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4:11).

Paul continued in Philippians, "Not that I have already . . . become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12). Again we are looking at the pattern God seeks for each of us. A mature Christian is one who lives in pursuit of God!

Paul continues, saying "One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (vv.13–14).

What specifically did Paul choose to "forget"? He let go of the wounds, forgave the offenses, and released to God the disappointments of yesterday. Nothing in Paul's past would be larger than Christ in his future. He pressed toward the prize of possessing Christ.

Many teachers will come and go throughout your life. They will have different styles and unique gifts and graces. But you are looking for the attitudes Paul described in this chapter. Look for those who are pressing toward the prize of Christlikeness. As for the others, pray for them, stand with them and, as you are led by the Lord, encourage them in love and prayer. But remember: Paul set the pattern for us. In these times of deception, accusation and false discernment, let us observe those who walk after the pattern of Paul. Let us discern the influence of Jesus in those who lead us. As we clearly see the Lord, let us follow those who follow Christ.



Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, The Days of His Presence available at www.arrowbookstore.com.